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Sorry (Madonna song)

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Head-shot of a woman with fiery red hair. Her face is turned to the right and her mouth is a little open and eyes closed. Beneath her face the word "MADONNA" is written in capital font in pink and white lines. Above it, the word "Sorry" is written in thin white flowing scripts.
Single by Madonna
from the album Confessions on a Dance Floor
B-side "Let It Will Be"
Released February 7, 2006
Recorded 2005
Length 4:43
Label Warner Bros.
  • Madonna
  • Stuart Price
Madonna singles chronology
"Hung Up"
"Get Together"

"Sorry" is a song by American singer Madonna from her tenth studio album Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005). It was written and produced by Madonna and Stuart Price, and released as the second single from the album on February 7, 2006.[2] It later appeared on Celebration, her 2009 greatest hits album. An uptempo dance song, "Sorry" was one of the first tracks developed for the album and had numerous remix treatments before the ultimate version of the track was finalized. One of the remixes was done by the Pet Shop Boys, featuring added lyrics by the band. The actual song features a dance groove tempo. It talks about personal empowerment and self-sufficiency.

"Sorry" received positive reviews from contemporary critics, who declared the track the strongest song on Confessions on a Dance Floor. Some critics also commented on the song's disco-influenced beats while comparing it to Madonna's older dance songs. It achieved commercial success, topping the singles charts in Italy, Spain, Romania and the United Kingdom, where it became Madonna's twelfth number one single. Elsewhere, the song was a top ten hit. However, in the United States, the song did not perform well due to an underplay on radio but was able to reach the top of Billboard‍ '​s dance charts and became one of the decade's most successful dance hits.

The accompanying music video, directed by Madonna's choreographer Jamie King, was a continuation from the "Hung Up" music video. It featured Madonna and her dancers roaming around a city in a van, dancing on roller skates and Madonna fighting with a group of men in a cage. She performed the song on her 2006 Confessions Tour in a similar fight sequence to that shown in the video. An additional video was created as a backdrop for a remix of the song, which depicted political leaders and scenes of war and destruction.

Background and composition[edit]

A sample for "Sorry" featuring the chorus backed by the synthesized beats.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Sorry" was one of the first tracks developed for Confessions on a Dance Floor. The songs were developed with a remixed perspective in mind. Madonna commented that, "Whenever I make records, I often like the remixes better than the original ones. [...] So I thought, screw that. I'm going to start from that perspective".[3] She promoted the album at the dance party "Misshapes" held at Luke & Leroy's nightclub in Greenwich Village, invited by Junior Sanchez to take over the DJ booth where she mixed "Hung Up" with "Sorry".[4] Musically, "Sorry" is an uptempo dance song containing layers of beats and strong vocal on the chorus.[5] It is set in common time with a moderately fast dance groove tempo of 132 beats per minute.[6] Composed in the key of C minor, Madonna's vocal range spans from F3 to G4.[6] It follows the chord progression of E–Cm–A–B during the spoken introduction. It then changes to Fm–Gm-Cm in the chorus, while continuing in A–Cm–A–Fm in the intermediate verses, ultimately ending in repeated lines of "I've heard it all before".[6]

Lyrically the song has excerpts of different languages including French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Hebrew, Hindi, Polish and Japanese.[7] The song talks about personal empowerment and self-sufficiency, denoting a shift in focus of Madonna as an artist from her previous songs about supremacy like "Everybody" (1982), "Vogue" (1990) or "Music" (2000) which was centered around the subject of music itself.[8] Among the various remixes, the Pet Shop Boys remix incorporated Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" with a more pronounced bassline and uses a double breakdown in the introduction.[9] Pet Shop Boys and Madonna had always mutually admired each other, from the time they wrote the song "Heart" (1988) for Madonna but never delivered it.[10] The remix had added lyrics sung by band member Neil Tennant which subsequently appeared on their remix album Disco Four. Madonna's voice hits on the first chorus which was remixed to have a masculine synth and a serious hook.[9] A breakdown happens before the fifth minute ends, leading to the entry of programmed drum sounds after which the song ends.[9]

Critical response[edit]

A silhouette of a woman against a red lit background is displayed on a number of video screens in a dark place.
A silhouette of Madonna in front of the neon screen is displayed during the "Sorry" remix video Interlude on the Confessions Tour.

Jennifer Vineyard of MTV News wrote that "Sorry" is the "album's strongest track" and that it is a "Pet Shop Boys-esque" song. Vineyard went on to say that it "...wistfully evokes the sounds of the '80s-era dance clubs that first lofted her toward stardom."[11] According to a review in the BBC's Collective, "New single 'Sorry' states Queen Madge's unapologetic stance, and though the song is wrapped up in relationship sentiment, one cannot help but hear the subtext, perhaps directed at her more savage critics: 'there are more important things than hearing you speak'."[12] Alan Braidwood from BBC Music called the song "lethally catchy".[13] Mike Pattenden of The Times and Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine noted that the bassline of the song utilizes The Jacksons' 1980 song "Can You Feel It".[14][15] The song was noted by Slant Magazine as one of the best songs of 2006.[16] In a review of "Sorry" from Virgin Media, it wrote that the song's musicscape features an "infectious combo of pumping, filtered synths and disco beats".[1] Keith Caulfield from Billboard commented that, "[Sorry] should keep fans hung up on Madonna's ability to create instant radio and club classics."[5] He also called the song "springy" while reviewing the album.[17]

Ben Williams of New York magazine, wrote that the song is "propelled by a catchy bass melody".[18] Joan Morgan of The Village Voice, in review of Confessions on a Dance Floor, wrote: "The party continues admirably with the multilingual, kick-your-man-to-the-curb 'Sorry'."[19] Stephen M. Deusner of Pitchfork Media wrote, "The cascades of sound wash directly into 'Sorry', setting up the song's panlingual apologies and shifting bass tectonics."[20] Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote that the first half of the album consists of love songs, happy and sad, and included "Sorry" into the mix.[21] Alexis Petridis from The Guardian called the song as triumphant.[22] Kitty Empire from the same newspaper said that "'Sorry' sees Madonna taking a lover to task over an insistent dance-pop rush."[23] Alan Light from Rolling Stone called the song "throbbing".[8] Thomas Inksweep from Stylus magazine commented that "Sorry" and first single "Hung Up" may not be as sleazy like Madonna's initial singles "Burning Up" (1984) or "Physical Attraction" (1984), but they have the same modus operandi of being designed for all-night dancing.[24]

Chart performance[edit]

In the United States, "Sorry" debuted at number 70 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the issue dated March 11, 2006[25] and reached a peak of 58 the following week.[26] The same week it reached a peak of 46 on the Pop 100 chart.[26] Its low chart performance in America was attributed to limited radio airplay. A petition was signed by about 3,300 fans at Known as the "End the Madonna U.S. Radio Boycott," it was addressed to Clear Channel Communications CEO Mark P. Mays. Message boards at Entertainment Weekly and VH1, were filled with everything from support for Madonna to conspiracy theories about why she was not played on radio.[27] The song, however, reached the top of the Hot Dance Club Play chart for two weeks, as well as Hot Dance Airplay chart for five weeks.[25][26] As of April 2010, the song has sold 366,000 digital units in the United States.[28]

In the United Kingdom, it debuted at number one on the chart dated February 26, 2006.[29] The song became Madonna's 12th number one single in Britain and second consecutive single from the album to peak the British chart, after "Hung Up."[30] This made Madonna the female artist with most number one songs in the United Kingdom, while placing her in fifth place in overall tabulation.[31] According to The Official Charts Company, the song has sold 200,000 digital downloads there.[32] In Australia, the song debuted and peaked at four.[33] The song peaked at number two on the Canadian Singles Chart[34] and was certified platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) on April 10, 2006 for sales of 80,000 units of paid digital downloads.[35]

It debuted at number five in Ireland and was on the chart for 12 weeks.[36] Elsewhere in Europe, the song became a top ten hit for Madonna reaching the top ten of countries like Austria, Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia), Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland while reaching the top of the charts in Italy, Spain and Billboard's Eurochart Hot 100 Singles.[37][38][39]

Music video[edit]

Refer to caption.
Madonna in a white leotard, parades around in a pair of roller skates with her dancers in the "Sorry" music video.

The music video incorporated parts of the television show Pimp My Ride,[40] and was shot by Madonna in London in January 2006 while she was making plans for her then forthcoming Confessions Tour.[41] It was directed by Madonna's longtime choreographer Jamie King and featured choreography from The Talauega Brothers.[42] Many of the performers featured in Madonna's "Hung Up" video were in that of "Sorry", which was shot as a continuation from the "Hung Up" video. Madonna's parts in the video were shot first, followed by the shot of the skaters. The shoot took place for over two days.[43]

The video starts with Madonna standing in front of neon lighted screen in a purple leotard uttering "Sorry" in different languages.[44] As the music starts she comes out from the gaming parlour of her "Hung Up" video with her dancers. They board a van where Madonna and her dancers strip of their clothes into new ones.[44] Madonna wears a white leotard with a matching tassled corset with her hair in 1970s retro inspired style and pair of knee high silver platform boots.[45]

As they move around the city in the van, they pick up different men from the streets to join them. These scenes are interspersed with the scenes of Madonna singing in front of the neon screen.[44] The video progresses like this until the intermediate verse whence Madonna is shown standing in a cage opposite to a number of men. As the bridge builds up, Madonna starts fighting with the men.[44] She starts bending backwards and tying herself in knot like positions, while doing backflips and somersaults which defeats the men.[45] The chorus starts again and Madonna and her dancers are shown skating in circles around a roller rink.[44] The video ends with the close-up of Madonna in the purple leotard and fades into her silhouette.[44]

Live performances[edit]

A giant cage, in front of which are gathered a number of people. Among them, a blond woman in brown jacket, pants and boots, stands on top of one of the rods and watches two men dancing.
Madonna stands in front of a cage as her dancers fight off in front, during the performance of "Sorry" on the Confessions Tour.

"Sorry" was performed on the 2006 Confessions Tour as part of the bedouin themed segment. Madonna was dressed in a Jean-Paul Gaultier kaftan with pants and high heeled boots.[46] As Madonna finished the performance of the song "Isaac", she took off the kaftan and wore a jacket given to her by the dancers and greets them one by one.[47] The Pet Shop Boys music for the song's remix start in the background. Madonna and her female dancers take to one side of a giant cage and start singing the song.[48] As the song progresses to the intermediate verses, Madonna engages in an energetic fight with her male dancers which demonstrated her bending her body and putting her leg over her head[48] and jumping from the cage on a dancer's back.[47]

The song was also used as a video backdrop during the interlude between the bedouin and the glam/rock sections.[47] The video featured images of fascists and political leaders from past and present like Adolf Hitler and Idi Amin Dada to George W. Bush and Tony Blair.[49] Their images flashed across the screen, with text and footage of war atrocities intermingled in between.[49] Madonna appears on the screens wearing her "Sorry" video leotard and utters the words "talk is cheap" and "don't speak", along with the music and Bush's lips stuttering.[47] The performances of "Sorry" and the remix video was included in The Confessions Tour CD and DVD.[50]

The Daily Mail called the performance "energetic".[48] Tom Young from BBC Music called the performance a "delight" but described the video as the "lowlight" of the tour.[51] Ed Gonzalez from Slant Magazine wrote that the performance was not among the concert's highlights. However, he commented that the remix backdrop "feels ecstatic [...] a collage of Godardian weight you can dance too".[49] Thomas Inkseep from Stylus described the song's performance and remix as "fantastic".[52]

Track listings and formats[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

  • Madonna – Lead vocals, producer
  • Stuart Price – Producer
  • Neil Tennant – Supporting vocals
  • Guy OsearyManagement
  • Goetz Botzenhardt – Mixing
  • Giovanni Bianco – Graphic Design, Art Direction
  • Orlando Puerta – Remixing, A&R
  • Angela Becker – Management
  • Ian Green – Programming, Producer
  • Paul Oakenfold – Remixing
  • Pete Gleadall – Programming
  • Steven Klein – Photography
  • Pet Shop Boys – Keyboards, Producer, Remixing


Preceded by
"Everytime We Touch" by Cascada
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Airplay number-one single
February 6, 2006 – March 20, 2006
Succeeded by
"Be Without You" by Mary J. Blige
Preceded by
"Teach Me Again" by Elisa featuring Tina Turner
Italian Singles Chart number-one single
February 17, 2006 – March 3, 2006
Succeeded by
"I Belong to You (Il Ritmo della Passione)" by Eros Ramazzotti and Anastacia
Preceded by
"Thunder In My Heart Again" by Meck featuring Leo Sayer
UK Singles Chart number-one single
February 26, 2006 – March 5, 2006
Succeeded by
"It's Chico Time" by Chico
Preceded by
"Nasty Girl" by Notorious B.I.G. featuring P. Diddy, Nelly, Jagged Edge and Avery Storm
Eurochart Hot 100 number-one single
March 11, 2006 – April 1, 2006
Succeeded by
"So Sick" by Ne-Yo
Preceded by
"Be Without You" by Mary J. Blige
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
March 18, 2006 – March 25, 2006
Succeeded by
"Talk" by Coldplay
Preceded by
"Thriller" by Michael Jackson
Spanish Singles Chart number-one single
April 16, 2006 – May 14, 2006
Succeeded by
"Rock with You" by Michael Jackson

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]